Should You Spy On Your Kids' Every Online Move?

from the missing-the-point dept

With the news breaking yesterday concerning MySpace getting sued because a teenaged girl who used the site was sexually assaulted by someone she met through the site, it's no surprise that we're going to see more and more stories about how to "protect" kids online. There's been a glut of these stories recently, and they seem to involve more and more draconian solutions. The latest, in USA Today, is no exception, profiling a number of parents who seem to think the only answer is to monitor and record every single thing that their kids do. In fact, in one story, a mother watches from another room as her son received an instant message that included "an obscene phrase and link to a sexual website." The kid, smart enough to know not to click on it, didn't. So what happens? The mother still suspended his instant messaging privileges. That's not raising a kid. It's over-protecting. Only one family profiled seems to actually focus on parenting: teaching the kids that the world isn't always a safe place, and explaining to them the risks they might face, how to recognize them and how to avoid them. They have regular dinner discussions about those risks. In other words, they're teaching the kids how to deal with the risks, not hiding them from the risks. Over-protecting kids puts them in a difficult position when they inevitably do face a risk: they don't know how to deal with. Educating kids, teaching them how to do the right thing, and trusting them to think on their own is what parenting is about. Being over protective and then suing everyone else as soon as anything goes wrong only teaches kids how to blame others and put their head in the sand about real risks.

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  1. identicon
    G, 21 Jun 2006 @ 2:06pm

    Mutual Trust with Learned Guidance

    Too many dolts expect the government or something as insubstantial as a religious figurehead to be responsible in protecting their child... when its the Child him/herself that is ultimately in charge of their own safety (parents cannot be present 24/7). Of course, with proper education and support from the parent, that risk can be lowered drastically. Remember the phrase 'knowledge is power' ? Well parents should use it. Give their children the proper knowledge to conduct themselves in whatever they do. In their day to day lives or even the internet. The internet is no different than real world. Kids are bombarded with all sorts of pressures in and out of school, and in an out of their 'chat rooms'. It is no different. The subject matter is the same... just the carrier of that material is different. Teach your child responsibility and give them the ability to 'think for themselves' rather than regurgitate some packaged spew fed to them by some 'walk away from strangers manual'. If they think for themselves, they learn responsible behavior that will mold them and guide them for the rest of their lives. Its simple. Build a relationship with your child based on mutual trust with a support structure of learned guidance (through the parent's life experience). The parent has ultimate judgment in their child's life. Yes. But without respect and mutual trust the parent's efforts are moot. Be involved in your childs life.. treat them as an individual. Do not ignore them. What may seem petty to you may mean the world to them. Take their concerns seriously and with respect, and they will respect you. You, the parent are their mentor and guide. No one else.

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